The Qur’an is a Universal Book, addressing not only God’s Messenger and his Companions, but all of humanity and all times to come until the Last Day.
The Qur’an is a Universal Book, addressing not only God’s Messenger and his Companions at the time, but all of humanity and all times to come until the Last Day. It is the greatest Divine blessing on us, but we are unable to fully benefit from the blessings of the Qur’ān unless we sincerely commit ourselves to understanding it. Through these awe-inspiring reflections of the Qur’ān, the honorable scholar and author of this book invites us to read and ponder upon its verses and to be mindful of them. He suggests every Qur’ān reader how to read and better understand it, “With the exception of the fact that I am not a Prophet, the Qur’ān addresses me directly.” The author further emphasizes throughout this work that the Qur’ān is a Divine call that demands implementation and practice in life and is by no means a book for simply analyzing religious teachings or rules. Indeed, if the spirit of his words were to be wrung out, the results would be his sincere call to follow the guidance of the Qur’ān in all of our thoughts, words, and actions in our practical, daily lives. This extensive commentary on selected verses of the Qur’ān is penned in a clear yet grand style that is accessible to both the general and scholarly audience of the contemporary age. Along with frequent references to a variety of classical and contemporary sources, the author presents new insights and fresh interpretations to the understanding of the modern age. His in-depth analyses and perspectives are of exacting relevance to everyone, including born Muslims reinvestigating the Qur’ān as well as new Muslims and all interested seekers striving to explore the depths of meanings and purpose of the Divine Speech. M. Fethullah Gulen is one of the most influential scholars in the Muslim world today. His ideas have inspired millions to take part in a movement of intercultural and interfaith dialogue and educational activism, which has produced hundreds of quality schools and dialogue organizations in more than 130 countries. Gulen is the author of numerous books, many of which are also available in various world languages.
The Qur’ān addresses the whole of humanity and jinn, namely all
conscious and responsible beings. Along with the Divine commands
and prohibitions it gives them, it also takes their words
and conveys them to us. It is always miraculous in all its content. However,
the miraculousness of the Qur’ān lies not solely in the subject matter
it conveys, but also in the nature of its conveyance. In addition, the
fact that the message it conveys is knowledge of the Unseen is yet another
Indeed, first and foremost, the selection of material in the Qur’ān is
miraculous. The subjects found in the Qur’ān are conveyed with such
material and in such a distinct fashion that its eloquence is unequalled,
exceeding the power of any human, jinn, or angel. To experience this
miraculousness, however, we need to study the verses of the Qur’ān
Sometimes, we experience things in our hearts which are impossible
to explain, and in such situations we weep in desperation, as the renowned
Turkish poet and author Mehmet Akif Ersoy (1873–1936) said:
I weep, but I cannot make others weep; I feel, but I cannot
explain my feelings;
The tongue of my heart is in knots, unable to express itself, and
this causes me great affliction.
Indeed, many individuals who listen to the depths of their hearts
while speaking and writing constantly experience the desperation of the
inability to express their emotions. This, in a sense, is a weakness. By
comparing this state of weakness with that which is successful in expressing
everything with great ease, we can easily say that such a weakness,
both in its relative or absolute sense, reveals the latter’s miraculous powers.
In the eternal plan, there is only one ensemble of statements of this
level, and that undoubtedly is the Holy Qur’ān .
Studying the verses of the Qur’ān from this point of view, we can say
that whoever speaks in the Qur’ān , whether this is the jinn, angels, Satan,
or even the Pharaoh, Nimrod, or Shaddad, the language used as the
means of expression is unique to the Qur’ān . This superb language is
open to all depths of meanings and allusive senses while it is also open
to extensive interpretation and commentary. No human and no declaration
other than the Qurān have ever been able to express such meaning
with this kind of material, themes, and symbols—and they never will.
So now let’s approach the subject from a different point of view:
every word is aimed at the latīfatu’r-Rabbāniyah, or “the spiritual intellects
or faculties,” that can directly perceive the spiritual realities that
the mind cannot grasp. These faculties include the qalb (the spiritual faculty
of the “heart”), sirr (the faculty of the “secret”—the spiritual faculty
that is more subtle than the “heart”), khafī (the private—the faculty that
is more subtle than the “secret”) and akhfā (the more private—the most
subtle faculty). These subtleties are the actual target of the words
expressed. If words cause any kind of contradiction or variation of meaning
between these subtleties, this indicates a deficiency in the words.
While reserving their differing degrees of deficiency, there is such a deficiency
in almost all human declarations. The Qur’ān , however, is superior
and exempt from such deficiencies.
In the realm of human language (Divine Words exceed our perception),
if the meanings felt in the heart undergo no change while passing
through the various sense filters such as the imagination, conception,
and intelligence and reach the level of explanation in their original state,
then this is classified as reaching an excellent declaration or way of
expression in terms of the topic in question. On some occasions, a word
cannot exceed these stages in its original state but remains at the level
of sensual language, thus failing the opportunity of true expression. If
words have been expressed in the form visualized in the imagination, in
other words, if the determination of declaration and intention comply
with the expression, then these words are complete. On the contrary, if
the envisagement has not completely embraced the imagination, then
this is a defective expression and an incomplete declaration of what was
originally imagined. If the intelligence was unable to transfer that which
was intended to be conveyed, this means it was eliminated in the depths
of one of the areas of conception. So the words that lose a great deal
xx Reflections on the Qur’ān
according to the imaginative level while passing through these filters
over and over again, are deficient, whereas the meaning, concept, and
intention, which are expressed with the depths of envisagement, is complete.
Indeed, the unique masterpiece of such perfection is the Qur’ān .
This perfection of the Qur’ān should be sought amidst the preservation
of its depth, in a sense, beyond the imagination and conception even as
it conveys the words of others. In that sense, it is impossible for anyone
to accomplish producing words and declarations like the Qur’ān .
Indeed, it is impossible for human beings and other creations—
mainly jinn and angels—to capture and express the meaning and its concept
in their own words at the level of intention and imagination. In
other words, there is absolutely no possibility for us to accomplish declarations
or words to this perfection. Therefore, the Qur’ān , which displays
such perfection in its totality, is a miracle, and its statements and
declarations as the first things that stimulate the intention and imagination
of others in their expressions not only correspond perfectly to the
discussion, but also are miraculous and Divine.
In this work, the transliteration of Arabic words and phrases are given
in italics and are transcribed with certain diacritical marks in order to
aid the correct pronunciation for the English-speaking readers.
The macron, which is a diacritical mark placed over a vowel, is used
to indicate that the vowel is long, as in the words Qur’ān and sūrah.
Moreover, the diacritics for the hamza (’) and the ‘ayn (‘) are used in the
transliteration of Arabic words and expressions. The symbols representing
the hamza, which is the sign used in Arabic orthography representing
a glottal stop, and the ‘ayn are similar. Therefore, the readers should
be aware that the hamza is shown by an apostrophe (’), as in the expressions
mu’min and wudū’, and the ‘ayn by a single opening quotation mark
(‘), as in the expressions ‘ Umar, ‘adl, and A‘ūdhu-Basmala in this book.
All the transliterated words are italicized except the Arabic proper
nouns—including the names of the Qur’anic chapters—as well as the
anglicized forms of words used for the names of persons or places. In
addition, a transliterated term that is used throughout this work is italicized
only on its first occurrence, as in hadīth.
In this work, we have followed English capitalization rules for transliterated
words and, therefore, capitalized proper names and major
terms but not the Arabic articles, prefixes, prepositions, or conjunctions,
except when it is the first word of a sentence or a footnote. Moreover,
apostrophes and hyphens are employed after articles, prepositions, and
conjunctions. For instance, the hyphen is used after the Arabic definite
article al, as in al-Musnad, and the apostrophe is used after the conjunction
of wa, as in al-Bidāya wa’n-Nihāya.
In addition, for the convenience of the non- Arabic readers, the
unpronounced sound of “l” in the Arabic definite article al is removed in
all transliterations and assimilated into the consonants d, n, r, s, sh, t, th,
and z (which are known by the name of al-hurūfu’sh-shamsiyyah) when it
is joined to a noun beginning with any one of these consonants, as in
“Sūratu’d-Duhā”, “Sūratu’n-Nūr” and “Sūratu’r-Rūm.” Also, when any of
the Arabic prefixes, prepositions, or conjunctions (such as wa, bi, li, la) is
followed by the definite article al, the “a” in al is elided, forming a contraction
rendered as wa’l-, bi’l-, li’l-, and la’l-. Ex. “al-amr bi’l-ma‘rūf wa’n-nahy
Finally, the English interpretations of the Qur’anic verses are given
in italics, followed by the references to the related verses given in parentheses
with the sūrah and āyah number that follow the name of the
Qur’anic chapter, as in (Al-Fātihah 1:5). All the interpretations of the
verses in this work are quoted from Ali Unal’s “The Qur’ān with Annotated
Interpretation in Modern English.” In addition, references to the hadīth
literature are given with the italicized name of the collection in which it
is to be found; therefore, Bukhārī, for instance, indicates that the hadīth
is in the collection put together by al-Bukhārī. In this work, the word
hadīth, when not capitalized, refers to a single, specific hadīth of the
Prophet while the Hadīth, which is identical to the concept of Sunnah,
refers to the collection of the Prophet’s words, and actions, as well as the
actions that he approved of in others.